Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread-Denise Dietz

Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread
Denise Dietz
Five Star, May 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147609

In Colorado Springs, Weight Winners diet club leader fortyish Ellie Bernstein is dog-sitting while a member Rachel Lester visits her ailing sister in Houston. Ellie is with her boyfriend Homicide Detective Lieutenant Peter Miller when he receives a call that someone has strangled Sara Lee using a Daffy Duck necktie.

Pete warns Ellie to stay out of it, but she vows to learn who killed the Barbra Streisand voice alike and tossed her corpse in the dumpster behind Uncle Vinnie's Gourmet Italian Restaurant. The obvious suspect her volatile husband former NFL player Trent Zachariah has an alibi. Soon afterward someone kills Rachel's martinet husband Matthew. Ellie tries to reach Rachel in Houston, but learns she is not there as the sister is healthy. As she interviews people at the strip mall where the restaurant is located, Ellie finds a link to her brother and the community theatre auditioning for Hello Dolly.

Although the story line never quite gels into a full meal because the subplots never merge until the final denouement, readers will enjoy this amateur sleuth mystery with a smidgen of a police procedural due to the eccentric cast starting with the heroine who has never found a mystery she can ignore. Ellie loves to sleuth almost as much as she used to love to nosh. The secondary characters are an entertaining group with differing personalities who make Ellie’s investigation fun to follow as she analyzes the mean and opportunity considering even a very tall thin female potentially possessing the strength to choke out small Sara and even lift a dead man.
Harriet Klausner